Haiti Reconstruction

Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education

Hello, I'm new to Haiti Reconstruction so I haven't followed your page on "Bank&Infrastructure Needs". My question is has anyone here heard of the Banque Haitienne De Développement" (BHD)?

This was a cooperative bank, 51% owned by cooperatives beginning back in 1999. This was an innovation in a time when microcredit-caisses populaires had alrady been set in motion. The idea of the BHD was what I've caught here briefly and in the NYT's article Can Microlending Save Haiti? Doesn't Haiti's poor need more than microlending?

The BHD was shuttered illegally in 2002 with some skullduggery on the part of a couple of members and the central Haitian bank. The apparent motivation beside individual crime is that the power structure of for-profit banks wouldn't want any such coop owned full service bank.

My organization is working to strengthen the cooperative movement in Haiti which has never really been able to rise above small development and microcredit. I've set up a new website: http://kowopsayiti.org There you can see --not a "Ning" fancy masterpiece--what we're up to. And the reopening of the BHD is part of the solution. A strong national network of full-fledged coops is the other piece.

Thank you all for all this amazing work I see on the site.

Tom Luce, http://hurah.org, Berkeley, Ca. PAP

Views: 67

Comment by Mike Mahowald on November 22, 2010 at 8:30pm
Hi Tom, thanks for joining our site! I liked the article by the NYT so I posted it. I have heard a lot of Fonkose and use it often for transfering money. I personally have not heard of BHD or KIVA while I have been in Haiti, but that doesn't mean much because my largest interest is in agriculture and conservation when I am in Haiti. Hopefully other members may know and respond to this blog post.
I am very impressed about Fonkoze years ago I saw them teaching women in Delmas. While traveling through Mathew 25 I have met many groups who use and have started Fonkoze Banks in the communities they work at. I also know of many women with families that have started small shops useing Fonkoze successfully.
Comment by Thomas F. Luce on November 22, 2010 at 9:53pm
Hi Mike, microcredit is clearly fulfilling a primary need, but as the NYT article sort of touches on, there is something more than micro. It speaks of "for-profit" banks. I'm not familiar with FONKOZE's "for-profit" branch. I have been told that they applied for a full service banking license but were denied. One major issue is not just any "B" but a Coop Bank as the way to guarantee poor folks control of major loans. A coop bank will not be jacking up salaries and dividends for "moun andeyo" foreigners to reap. The other major issue is that a strong coalition of coops or the Kreyol word, "kowòps" as I prefer. Otherwise no single kowòp could get major loans. The many loosely organized kowòps or konbit, or lakou don't have that solidity that is needed.
I haven't found anything like the BHD yet and it should be reopened if my research is correct. Prof. Mats Lundahl wrote a book in 1992 pointing out the shortcomings of the coop movement and one of them was the inability to access large investments. The BHD came along and was shuttered illegally. I think this was on purpose so that the real for profit "B" would have the control.
I'm looking forward to people here, like yourself, working on this problem. Achieving a higher level of independence will take more than replanting, food sovereignty. Thanks!


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